Cebu Citizens-Press Council

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Bohol mayor won’t close media outlets

June 18th, 2010 · No Comments

Tagbilaran mayor won’t close media outlets
By Elias O. Baquero
Sun.Star Cebu, June 18, 2010

TAGBILARAN City Mayor Dan Lim assured a fact-finding team from the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) he won’t order the closure of The Bohol Chronicle Radio Corp. (BCRC), which operates the Bohol Chronicle newspaper and three radio stations, for alleged non-payment of the full amount of due sales taxes.

That, as the CCPC, through a panel that looked into the team’s report, cautioned the mayor against using his authority to restrict or suppress press freedom in his city, even as it advised the complaining media group to follow standards of fairness and accuracy so as not to be perceived as being unprofessionally partisan.

Earlier, BCRC owner Peter Dejaresco had sought the help of CCPC and Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility  against an alleged threat of the Tagbilaran City Hall to padlock the Dejaresco family’s twice-weekly newspaper and two AM and one FM radio stations.


CCPC, through executive director Pachico Seares, sent last June 9 lawyer Elias Espinoza of Cebu Media Legal Aid and Elias Baquero, president of the Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists, to visit Tagbilaran and look into the complaint.

Espinoza and Baquero talked with Dejaresco and the Chronicle media group, City Hall officials led by Dan Lim, and editors of the two other newspapers in that city.

On their return, they reported the other day to an ad hoc CCPC panel composed of Seares; Cherry Ann Lim, CCPC assistant executive director; and Bobby Nalzaro of the local broadcast industry.

The panel agreed that it is not within CCPC’s authority and competence to formally investigate the charges and counter-charges. It can look into the media situation, however. And the fact-finding has identified the basic differences between the contenders.

“We can only mediate in the dispute. And CCPC started that by securing the promise of the mayor,” Seares said. “A truce can be sustained if both sides will resolve their conflict in the courts and, in the meantime, will observe prudence and due diligence in dealing with one another.”

“We’re initially gladdened by Mayor Lim’s pledge not to use his office to suppress press freedom or harass journalists,” Seares added.

No permit

Dejaresco accused Mayor Lim of refusing to accept his tax payments and then using this as a reason not to issue his firm business permits for two years, 2009 and 2010.

Dejaresco said he was forced to deposit P237,112 as payment for taxes under consignation to the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court in Bohol last May 17, 2010 after word spread that the mayor would padlock radio station dyRD and Bohol Chronicle, both under BCRC, due to the lack of business permits.

But Lim said Dejaresco had tax deficiencies for at least five years.

Dejaresco’s taxes and penalties  from 2006 to 2010 amount to P833,882.97,  the mayor’s office said.

Despite this, Lim said he didn’t have any intention of closing BCRC.


According to Dejaresco, Lim began his harassment on alleged tax payment discrepancies last year because of their exposes on the controversial city drainage system to which 30 establishments were allowed to illegally connect.

They also exposed transactions by Lim as Tagbilaran mayor that they considered questionable.

However, Lim said in a telephone interview that the city treasurer’s office, which is mandated to prepare the business permit for his signature, is ready to issue the business permits if Dejaresco will pay his tax deficiencies, which were discovered by the City Government during his first term from 2004-2007.

Lim, who is on his third term as mayor, said Dejaresco evaded paying the correct taxes and that such irregularity was only uncovered when the City prepared a matrix of taxpayers, listing the taxpayers based on classification.

In the matrix, Lim said, a competitor of Bohol Chronicle, the Sunday Post of publisher Ciriaco “Boy” Guingguing, pays much higher taxes than BCRC even if Sunday Post is smaller in terms of newspaper thickness and circulation.

Lim said Dejaresco’s radio stations dyRD and dyRD-FM were also paying less taxes than a competitor, radio dyTR.

Guingguing, in a separate interview, confirmed his newspaper was smaller than Bohol Chronicle and he has no radio station, yet he paid higher taxes than Dejaresco.

Earlier days

Dejaresco said he and Lim were the best of friends until Lim got mad at him for exposing his irregularities as mayor. Dejaresco said he even gave a free radio time slot for Lim’s “mayor’s report.” But the mayor left dyRD and transferred to the rival dyTR.

Lim said he transferred to dyTR when Dejaresco used blocktime commentators to attack him daily. The daily commentaries against him started when the city treasurer’s office reminded Dejaresco of his unpaid tax obligations.

He said that in the last two years, Dejaresco had used Bohol Chronicle and dyRD radio as tools  to malign him and support his political rivals.

“I am giving P10,000 to anybody who can show me a single news article of Bohol Chronicle in my favor in the past two years,” Lim said.

Dejaresco said he had such news items but did not present any to the team.


During the interview, Dejaresco presented dyRD technician Gerry Cajes who alleged that he (Cajes) and Gerry Pabe, a radio block-timer, were victims of the mayor’s political vendetta because the electricity of their houses was cut off on orders of Lim at the height of the campaign period.

Pabe ran as independent councilor, while Cajes allegedly wrote text messages against the mayor and fed them to blocktime programs besmirching his name.

But the mayor said it was Bohol Light Co. Inc., a private power distribution utility, that decided to cut off their power connection.

Lim explained that Cajes and Pabe were among those who availed themselves of a housing project of the National Housing Authority. But because the borrowers failed to comply with the requirements of a subdivision, Lim acted as guarantor so they could get a  power connection.

Lim said because Pabe and Cajes conspired with his political opponents in tarnishing his image as mayor, he discontinued being their guarantor.

“I withdrew as guarantor, and it’s up to them to find another guarantor. How can I continue to be their guarantor when they are attacking me? Is that political harassment?” Lim said.

Dejaresco also presented blocktimer Nestor Daarol, who allegedly received death threats since he started attacking Lim. Dejaresco said he provided a vehicle to fetch and send Daarol home with escorts because of the threats to his life.

However, Lim’s counsel Doni Piquero said Daarol had victimized countless people in his blocktime program, so the police will have a hard time finding the culprit if anything happens to him.


Dejaresco also presented blocktime commentator Roberto “Batchoy” Alba, a known critic of the mayor, whose house was partially burned, and who believes it was a case of attempted arson perpetrated by Lim’s protégé.

However, Association of Barangay Captains president Paro Cabalit said the Tagbilaran City Fire Department reported that the fire started from inside the house and not outside.

“The report of the fire department investigators showed that because the fire came from inside and not outside, as alleged by Batchoy, this was one proof that it was an inside job,” Cabalit said.

Tags: Announcements · Media issues

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